The Portland Review Fall Film and Video Issue
Sneak Preview Edition
I hold in my hands a sneak preview of The Portland Review’s “Fall Film and Video” issue, distributed to readers and reviewers at last month’s Wordstock festival. It contains a smattering of prose and poetry by Rochelle Hurt, Dennis Hinrichsen, Sean Bernard, and J. Bowers.
The Writing: Humor and Humor Attempted
So let’s talk about the innards. The preview issue opens strong with a delightful poem by Rochelle Hurt. Her work is subtle, makes good use of perception shift, and has touches of humor. I’d highly recommend finding additional work on her website.
After this strong opening, the preview takes a bit of a nosedive. The Sean Bernard piece adopts a relatively unique tone, indicative of strong writing, but this excerpt from California doesn’t work well as a standalone piece—cleaved from its whole, the excerpt lacks decisive purpose or direction, and it feels unfinished. Of course, excerpting can often lead to a feeling of absence, but a well-selected excerpt should generate some of its own gusto even in isolation.
The interview with Mike Grey, star of the Comedy Cellar Network show The Troupe, falls a bit flat too. The interview has a punch line that tries to incorporate some humorous existentialist remarks, all swirled around repeatedly asking if it’s okay to light up a cigarette. This premise sounds nice, but the entire exchange feels like a failed Abbot and Costello routine. The Troupe may be a laugh riot, but this interview just didn’t do it.
Other selections in the preview were also okay, but lacked the “oomph” of Rochelle Hurt’s opening piece. In the few days prior to reading this preview edition, I had found a better assortment of outstanding work on The Portland Review’s poetry blog, though most of these poems were obviously not suited for a “Film and Video” themed issue. Regardless, The Portland Review has better writing currently relegated to the blog burner.
Overall, the preview has some polished text, but not much of a wow factor. I wasn’t as impressed with this preview compared to what I know The Portland Review can deliver. However, maybe I’ll still head to Powell’s and page through the full issue; maybe some more pieces like Rochelle Hurt’s great opener will find their way into the finished product—the poetry blog gives me hope.
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